Walt Murphy is one of the finest track geeks that I know. Walt does #ThisDayinTrack&FieldHistory, a wonderful daily service providing the true geeks stories about our sport. You may subscribe for a fee (email: WaltMurphy44@gmail.com ) for the entire daily service. We post a couple historic moments each day, beginning on February 1, 2024. We thank Walt Murphy for this service. 

This Day in Track & Field–February 1

2003–The Columbia Shuttle broke up “16 minutes from home” as it was finishing up its mission. Pilot Willie McCool, the former captain of the Naval Academy’s X-country team, was one of seven crew members who perished on this day. Just a few days earlier, NASA officials in Houston had piped in John Lennon’s “Imagine” to the shuttle. After the song ended, McCool replied, “…that song makes us think that from our orbital vantage point we observe an Earth without borders, full of peace, beauty, and magnificence, and we pray that humanity as a whole can imagine a borderless world as we see it and strive to live as one, in peace…”
At the suggestion of Navy coach Al Cantello, a marker honoring McCool was placed on the Navy x-country course at a spot where he would have been “16 minutes from home” in the best race of his career.
From Senator John McCain’s speech later in the year:
“Before inviting his cross-country coach Al Cantello to the Space Shuttle Columbia launch, Commander McCool sent a portrait of himself to Cantello with the following inscription: `’Your coaching laid a foundation of discipline, drive, and passion that has carried me across the many milestones of my life. With boundless appreciation, Willie.’ From that foundation, Commander McCool developed into a top-notch Naval Officer and served our country in an exemplary manner. On this Veterans Day, I humbly thank Commander McCool and his family for his selfless service and sacrifice for our country.”
          Related Links(Take the time to read all of these stories):

          Statue in His Hometown of Lubbock, Texas

Senator John McCain
Runner’s World Article(for subscribers)

          NASA Bio


2008—Bernard Lagat (3:57.51) won the Wanamaker Mile at the Millrose Games for the 6th time. Next across the line were Australia’s 6’-3” (1.90+) Craig Mottram (3:57.90), New Zealand’s Nick Willis (3:58.14), and Galen Rupp (4:02.17).

Kara Goucher (4:36.03) edged Sara Hall (4:36.11) to win the Women’s Mile.

Winner of the High School Boys Mile in 4:13.86 was Kyle Merber (Half Hollow Hills West, NY), who fought off a challenge from Robby Andrews (Manalapan, NJ/4:14.60).

Both would return to the Millrose Games and the Wanamaker Mile as pros, with Merber’s best finish being  3rd in 2017, while Andrews was 4th in 2016.

Merber, the former American Collegiate Record holder at 1500-Meters (3:35.59), currently publishes “The Lap Count”, an informative weekly newsletter.



Videos:  M60h  W60  M-Mile  HSB Mile

Past Wanamaker Mile Winners